A guide of things to do in Saltaire

A guide of things to do in Saltaire

The village of Saltaire can be found near Bradford in Yorkshire England. It was created by Sir Titus Salt (to which he and the river Aire which run though it give it the name) in the mid 19th century.

Saltaire was built between 1851 and 1872 to provide the workers in his mill with decent housing and other amenities such as a hospital, school, and wash houses.

Titus Salt was a pretty decent bloke and really looked after his workers – even in old age and sickness. He has been named as one of the greatest Victorian philanthropists. Some big businesses today should learn some lessons from him.

Saltaire was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 and recognised as ”one of the earliest, largest and  best preserved nineteenth century ‘model villages’ anywhere in the world.” (Discover Saltaire)

If you are looking for things to do in Saltaire to better plan your day then read on!


things to do in Saltaire

Saltaire information board

Things to do in Saltaire

The Heritage Trail in Saltaire

Our first stop was the Visitor Information Centre to find out about things to do in Saltaire. As we soon discovered there was a lot to see and do on our visit. We picked up a map of the Heritage Trail which takes you through the village to points of interest as you stroll. I purchased the official guide for £1.50 which gives lots of great information to read as you take the trail.

I highly recommend that you take the trail as it was really interesting and you learn a lot about life for ordinary people in 19th century England. (Or those lucky enough to work for Salt as the lives of workers in other areas was not necessarily as good as those in Saltaire)

In the village of Saltaire you will also see lots of beautiful buildings built in the 19th century – from the huge Mill to the almshouses these buildings give a great insight into life in Saltaire in the 1800’s. The village was designed by local architects Lockwood and Mason who designed houses far superior than was the norm for workers at that time (for example they had gas/water/separate kitchens and outside toilets and some even had gardens). The Saltaire United Reformed Church designed by the pair is now a grade 1 listed building.

It is also worth remembering that these houses are lived in – as it states in the official trail booklet “Saltaire is a community and not a museum” so please respect their privacy.

Tip – check out the street names!


What to see and do when visiting Cromford Mills in Derbyshire


Explore Salt Mills

The Salt Mills were opened by Titus Salt in 1853 and some 3000 workers were producing up to 30,000 yards of cloth a day (Saltaire Trail).

In 1987 the now empty and silent mill was bought by Jonathan Silver, an entrepreneur who created the 1853 gallery. The gallery exhibited works by local artists including David Hockney who is from nearby Bradford and was the beginning of the regeneration of the area. The Mill still holds one of the  largest collections of Hockneys in the world.

There is loads to see in the Mill – a lot of art from Hockney to enjoy, shops to peruse and a number of places to stop off for a drink/sandwich or a meal. (And the serviette in Salts Diner has the best logo ever – designed by Hockney!!)


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How to get to Saltaire

We caught the train to Saltaire as it has its own station and I would highly recommend this option. There are regular train services from Bradford and Leeds and the train station is opposite the mill! Easy! Saltaire has limited  parking and using public transport is a more sustainable way to protect the local environment and lessens the impact of tourism on those who live in the village.

Saltaire is built next to the Leeds Liverpool Canal and is an excellent place for a stroll or a hike for those more serious walkers.

things to do in Saltaire - a canal boat

The Mill is open every day except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. For more information check out the Saltaire Village website here!


15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK to visit


Want to know more about the history of Saltaire?

This wonderful new book by local author Malcolm Hitt and local historian Gary Firth, takes a comparative peep into how Titus Salt’s model industrial village has changed since acquiring the status of a World Heritage site. Images are brought together to compare and contrast changing modes of transport, employment, fashion, retailing and leisure as well as showing change from Victorian times to the new millennium in the housing and public buildings of Saltaire’s historic core. The past and present photographs of Saltaire in this book are due largely to the dynamism and entrepreneurial vision shared by both Salt and Silver in this beautiful and ordered model village. One found it, the other has helped to preserve it. Saltaire Through Time will bring back fond memories of yesteryear for residents new and old, and for all those who love to visit this part of Yorkshire.

This ground-breaking study analyses the building of Saltaire, the famous model town in West Yorkshire. Now a World Heritage Site, it was designed to provide mill-workers housing and is a superb example of enlightened urban planning, created during a 24-year building programme. The authors follow its development through seven building phases and sixteen building contracts, explaining the principles which guided the urban layout and the various house designs. By comparing Saltaire with earlier factory towns and considering its 19th-century architectural context, they describe the design decisions taken and the implications of those choices. They reveal for the first time that the hierarchies apparent in the architecture were the result of the design process and should not be seen as a reflection of the town’s social structure.

Hotels Saltaire  – where to stay

Why not book a night or two in Saltaire and explore the area?


UNESCO World Heritage Site

As I have mentioned Saltiare is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. To find out more about its inscription visit the UNESCO listing here!

There are lots of fantastic UNESCO World Heritage Sites to visit in the UK. Bath is a UK city which has UNESCO World Heritage status. If you are planning to visit there are 8 things to do in Bath which you may enjoy!

Visiting Blenheim Palace a UNESCO World Heritage Site
4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Northern England to visit
A weekend visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites in London
All you need to know about visiting Ironbridge Gorge
Visiting Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal in England
UNESCO World Heritage Sites Around the World

Pin for later – Things to do in Saltaire


Author: Tracy

Tracy has lived and worked in 7 countries on 4 continents and travelled to over 50 more. A qualified school teacher with an interest in history, reading, photography, nature and wildlife she is always planning her next trip (preferably by train)

With a lifetime of travel experience, and a network of friends all over the world, she is also able to share genuine insider guides, recommended best book lists and train journey inspiration to help you travel authentically to some of the most beautiful places on earth.

Come and join me as I travel the world one country (and train journey) at a time!


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  1. March 21, 2017 / 10:28 pm

    Ok I will be honest, I had never heard of Saltaire before but it looks like such a cute little village! The brick homes and unified streets are so photogenic – I can’t help but fall in love with victorian villages like this. Love that you have included a book to read about Saltaire too!

  2. March 22, 2017 / 11:11 am

    Don’t forget the wonderful Saltaire Vintage Shop which is 10 years old this year ! Thank you…….

    • March 22, 2017 / 5:35 pm

      I will have to pop in and take a look on my next visit to Saltaire Melanie!

  3. March 22, 2017 / 7:16 pm

    Your post is perfectly timed because I’m reading Bill Bryson’s “Notes from a Small Island” where he travels around the UK and he too visited Saltaire. The book is quite hilarious and has me laughing out loud. I had never heard of Saltaire until I read the book and now, your blog post. I heard that Salt was quite the puritan and there were no pubs or alcohol in Saltaire but I guess a conservative lifestyle was a fair trade off for being well looked after for many of his workers. I was so excited to see David Hockney’s work in the museum, we just saw his exhibition in Melbourne and it was fabulous!

    • March 22, 2017 / 9:00 pm

      I am reading the next book by Bryson The Road to Little Dribbling – also hilarious! Saltaire is a fantastic place to visit and the Hockney’s are a great bonus! He is from Bradford and I believe has a great relationship with Saltaire – he designed the napkin in the restaurant! I was too excited to use it lol! Even better as it has a sausage dog on it and we have one!

  4. March 22, 2017 / 7:41 pm

    I have not heard of Saltaire but I am definitely adding it to my list of places to visit in England. Such interest history and facts that you have provided.

  5. March 22, 2017 / 8:32 pm

    We don’t have time for that, alas but looks great (I’d go just for the Hockney restaurant!)

    • March 22, 2017 / 8:57 pm

      Its a pity Lydia as well worth a trip – and the Hockney’s are a bonus 🙂

  6. March 22, 2017 / 9:04 pm

    I love that you have all these charming towns and UNESCO World Heritage Sites so close to you! It’s one of the things I love most about Europe. Wish America was like that. Would love to take a walk along that canal! #wanderfulwednesday

    • March 26, 2017 / 8:02 pm

      Thanks Christine – I am moving to Australia soon and know I will miss visiting places like Saltaire.

  7. March 23, 2017 / 12:56 am

    This sounds like a great little trip! I’ve never heard of Saltaire before so it was great to learn a bit about it.

    • March 26, 2017 / 8:01 pm

      Thanks Marcella – its a lovely town to visit.

  8. March 24, 2017 / 10:40 pm

    I love Saltaire, the bookshop in the Mill is awesome and the park is lovely. It’s nice that there are pubs there these days though!

  9. March 25, 2017 / 3:52 am

    I have not heard of Saltaire before today, although I have been to most of the other UNESCO sites on your list (Fountains Abbey being my favourite). Saltaire is charming. 30K yards of fabric a day sounds like quite a bit for the mid-1800s. Impressive.

    • March 26, 2017 / 7:56 pm

      I love Fountains Abbey most of all too (but Saltaire is fab too!) Hope you get to visit Saltaire!

    • March 26, 2017 / 7:58 pm

      I absolutely adore Fountains Abbey and it is my favourite too though we thoroughly enjoyed Saltaire!

  10. March 25, 2017 / 3:26 pm

    We will always find the UNESCO sites to visit whenever we go somewhere new. We haven’t been to Saltaire yet, but I love the idea of turning the old mill into an art gallery. Thanks for the inspiration; see you next week! #wkendtravelinspiration

    • March 26, 2017 / 7:54 pm

      Thanks Jim – we loved Saltaire and the Hockneys are an added bonus!

  11. March 27, 2017 / 7:38 am

    I have to say I have never heard of Saltaire ! It looks like a place we would love to explore! Thanks for sharing!

    • March 28, 2017 / 3:05 pm

      Thanks for commenting Stacey – hope you get to visit Saltaire one day as it is really interesting!

  12. March 27, 2017 / 12:05 pm

    I had never heard of Saltaire before, but it looks fascinating. Thanks for sharing Tracy. #mondayescapes #staycationinspiration

    • March 28, 2017 / 3:04 pm

      Thanks Siobhan – nice I was able to tell you about somewhere you hadn’t heard of – great place to visit too!

  13. March 27, 2017 / 5:03 pm

    What a great idea for places to visit – this place looks lovely, I really hope to head up north a bit more! #MondayEscapes

    • March 28, 2017 / 3:03 pm

      Yes there are some beautiful places to visit!

  14. March 28, 2017 / 1:08 am

    First time I hear about this village but it is incredible to see what Sir Titus Salt created for his employees. Like you mentioned, some modern day employers should take notice (sometimes feels like we are moving backwards on certain things). #MondayEscapes

    • March 28, 2017 / 3:01 pm

      It is pretty amazing what he did – a great place to visit too!

  15. March 28, 2017 / 2:30 pm

    I live quite near here and haven’t been for ages! I need to pay it a return visit and see the gallery and explore it further. #mondayescapes

    • March 28, 2017 / 2:54 pm

      Hi Jo we really enjoyed it and plan to visit again in the summer! Really great place!

  16. March 29, 2017 / 7:19 am

    You have captured Saltaire perfectly, it has such an interesting history and for a small town there is so much to see as you wander round.

  17. March 29, 2017 / 8:11 pm

    It looks so incredible I would love to visit and it isn’t to far from us, I love all the beautiful historic buildings, and the history is so interesting, what a great man to take such care of his workers when so many didn’t. Thanks os much for linking up #MondayEscapes

    • March 30, 2017 / 3:15 pm

      Thanks Sarah I would definitely recommend a visit!

  18. March 30, 2017 / 7:27 pm

    Oh this post brings back so many memories I used to live in Rodley just down the road. Thanks for linking up to #MondayEscapes.

    • March 31, 2017 / 7:23 pm

      Oh that must have been great! it is such an amazing place to visit!

  19. March 31, 2017 / 4:51 pm

    What a cute village! I’ve never heard of it before. Thanks for putting it on my radar.

  20. April 2, 2017 / 8:42 pm

    I stumbled across Saltaire a few years a go when I stayed in a B&B in Bradford, I was surprised that people were still living in the houses and I really enjoyed exploring a couple of the charity shops and taking a walk along the canal

  21. April 11, 2017 / 6:07 pm

    I really fancy getting to Saltaire for a day out. There’s a local brewery, based there, that is producing some very good beer and I’d like to try it where it’s made.

    • April 11, 2017 / 7:48 pm

      Sounds like a great idea to me Stuart! Enjoy your visit!

  22. April 13, 2017 / 2:47 am

    Really interesting post! I’ve just reprimanded my hubby for never mentioning it to me (him being a Yorkshire man and all). I’ll have to check it out next time we head up north. Thanks for linking #citytripping

    • April 13, 2017 / 7:27 pm

      Lol! You will definitely have to visit next time you are in Yorkshire Elizabeth!

  23. April 13, 2017 / 5:48 am

    I love Saltaire – It is beautiful in summer when you can lounge in Robert’s Park and watch the cricket or drink by the river! I haven’t been for a while but this post is making me want to visit again (I live very close by in Leeds!) #citytripping

    • April 13, 2017 / 7:26 pm

      We are definitely going to visit again in the summer – just need a nice sunny day and we will be there too!

  24. April 13, 2017 / 8:44 am

    Interesting article, especially because I have an assignment for college on UNESCO. Great input and nice photos 🙂


    • April 13, 2017 / 7:24 pm

      Thanks Laura! Good luck with your assignment!

  25. May 8, 2017 / 5:43 pm

    Interesting and informative post. Saltaire looks like a beautiful place to visit.

    • May 8, 2017 / 6:23 pm

      It is really interesting and a lovely day out!